Peacefmonline.com has chanced upon a document of agreement between the Central Bank and a private company, Sibton Switch Systems Ltd, for the execution of Ghana Retail Payment System Infrastructure.
A few years ago, the Regulator requested for tenders from prospective private corporate entities to "exclusively build, own and operate" the Ghana Retail Payment System as an interoperable and integrated mobile and electronic payment clearing and settlement system.
The Bank of Ghana (BoG) subsequently contracted Sibton Switch Systems Ltd a subsidiary of Sibton Communications to act as the switch for the cross-network mobile money transactions, with additional cost implications for both consumers and the telcos.
The company was given a GHc 4.6 billion contract for the project.
The agreement between the Regulator, Bank of Ghana and Operator, Sibton Switch Systems Ltd, came into effect on Wednesday, August 24, 2016.
But in January 2017, the issue of mobile money interoperability came to the fore after some telecom operators kicked against moves by the central bank to impose on them a third-party company to implement the interoperability by petitioning the Presidency.
It turned out that the company’s GHc 4.6 billion price tag was the most expensive among the companies that bid for the project.
Tender documents stumbled upon indicated that while the Sibton Switch Systems’ bid amounted to GHc 4.6 billion, two bids in the contract were quoted as GHc 14 million and GHc 5.4 million from Vals Intel Limited and Mericom Solutions Limited respectively.
The Sibtons Switch deal was later abandoned and the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) took charge of the project.
Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, at the launch of the first phase of the mobile money interoperability system on May 10, this year, disclosed that the new interoperability system would cost the country less than $4 million, and prayed that this first step “would make Ghana one of the global leaders in the interoperability payments space.”
But on Monday, a former Deputy Governor of the BoG, Dr Johnson Asiama, rebuffed claims that the interoperability contract awarded under the Mahama administration was overpriced.
At a press conference in Accra, Dr Asiama stressed that the new system launched by the Vice-President, is different in scope from the original contract; hence the disparity in the contract.
Interestingly, eventhough he conceded not having seen the scope of the current system launched by the Veep, the former deputy BoG Governor insisted it might not be as comprehensive as was envisaged under the original contract.
“I am out of office and I cannot say what is being done now but if I look at the details and scope of work in the original contract as stated here, it goes far beyond what was launched last week....It is like comparing antelope and an elephant…I am not sure the price will be same…” he said.
The Central Bank awarded the contract at a value of Ghc 4.6billion, but the present administration says the project has been built at $4.5m; which is a far cry from the astonishing figure that the NDC was going to have it done for.
Click the attached link to peruse the entire contract document and financial proposals.